3 easy steps to organizing your home, one area at a time

Getting our homes organized is a goal that never sees an end for many people. There's always one more drawer or closet that could use a going-over. Organizing projects can sometimes stretch on and on. Here are some ways to speed up the process.1.

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  • Getting our homes organized is a goal that never sees an end for many people. There's always one more drawer or closet that could use a going-over. Organizing projects can sometimes stretch on and on. Here are some ways to speed up the process.

  • 1. Declutter

  • The first and best thing to do when organizing is to de-clutter the area. After all, you don't need to spend time organizing and finding homes for items that you don't need or don't belong there. For a quick but thorough declutter, take in three containers to the area. Mark the first "Trash," the second "Donate," and the third "Elsewhere." Now quickly go through the items that clutter the area — stuff sitting on surfaces, on the floor, or spilling out of drawers or closets. The trick is to move quickly and don't get distracted by taking things to other rooms of your house. That's why you have a container marked "Elsewhere." You will put these things away after the area you are working on is finished.

  • 2. Categorize

  • Take each item and determine if it goes in one of these three containers, or if it will stay in the area you're organizing. Once you go through everything, you should have a smaller, more manageable number of things that need organizing.

  • 3. Prioritize

  • Look over the remaining items and prioritize them by how often they are used. Things that are used daily should be organized into "prime space"the most easily accessed drawers, the front of a closet, or even a countertop. Things you use less often should be assigned places that are a little harder to get to, and things you use rarely should be put in the hardest to access spots — or even relegated to deeper storage elsewhere. If you haven't used the item in over a year, consider whether you should keep it.

  • Take a clothes closet, for example

  • . After you've removed the clutter, look at each item. Put your favorite clothes and shoes in the part of the closet you can get to the fastest. Clothes you rarely wear can go farther back or to the extreme sides. If it's been over a year since you've worn something, there's a good chance you'd be better off donating the item and letting someone else get some good use from it.

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  • A decluttered, organized area is a pleasure to use and has the added benefit of being easier to clean. With the clothes closet example, you can imagine how much easier it is to clean and vacuum a closet that has been unburdened from all of its clutter — heaps of shoes jumbled on the floor, purses, sports equipment, luggage, and on and on—and has instead neat stacks or organizers bought for the area. How much easier will it be to find those certain shoes when you're in a rush to leave? And your belongings will stay in much better shape once they're rescued from the piles and have a clean, uncluttered place to live.

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Margot Hovley is the author of the novels "Sudden Darkness" and "Glimmering Light." Her self-reliance blog is at mynewoldschool.com, and she blogs about her writing adventures at margothovley.com.

Website: http://www.margothovley.com

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